Monday, 14 November 2011

Nós Somos St Michael’s de Worthing

Deacon Mark, Jane, Anita and Fr Chris with messages in Portugese
‘We are St Michael’s in Worthing’ is one the messages in the photo taken at the recent Curry Night at St Michael’s Catholic Parish, High Salvington, Worthing in aid of CAFOD (Catholic Agency for Overseas Development) and Connect2: Brazil. As well as raising over £535 for CAFOD and Connect2: Brazil, the parish sent a message of solidarity to the CAFOD partners in São Paulo, Brazil. These partners work in the favelas (shanty towns) of São Paulo with the homeless and poorly housed fighting for their rights to decent housing, and access to sewage, water and electricity.

Tony Sheen who had recently been on a visit to Brazil to meet with these communities in São Paulo joined St Michael’s over the weekend to speak at all 3 Masses and to those gathered for the Curry Night. He spoke of the work of CAFOD’s partners in enabling local communities to obtain land rights, source funding from local government and provide hope and housing for the homeless. Above all he spoke of the wonderful people he met on his trip and the tireless work they did for the poor communities of São Paolo.

One of the people Tony met was Maria Auxiliadora de Souza who has lived in Divineia, São Paulo for 34 years. “I remember the day I arrived here. I went to a church meeting where people were discussing the neighbourhood’s problems. There was no electricity, no water, only from a well next to a cesspit. Everything was difficult. Then the church trained some of us as community leaders. Almost everything good here is a result of working with the church and the housing movement.”

When Tony had travelled to Brazil he took with him a jar of homemade Spiced Plum Chutney from St Michael’s which he shared with the community. The chutney was made by the Chair of the St Michael’s CAFOD group, Jane Woods. In thanks CAFOD’s partners sent a small gift of a special Brazilian mug and chocolate to Jane. In this small exchange of gifts both groups of people understood that they were tied together with bonds of solidarity and an understanding that the relationship between the two communities was more than just the giving and receiving of money.

Deacon Mark Woods from St Michael’s parish and the CAFOD group said “We had a wonderful Curry Night sharing not only in good food and company, but in the realization that what we do here has real benefit at lots of different levels for those communities in São Paul. We also learn from them that even in the most difficult of circumstances that hope and real action can overcome most things. We, as ever, enjoyed the curries provided by Shafiques of Goring Road, Worthing, and we were also grateful to Tony for sharing with us these positive stories of the Catholic Church and its partners among the poor of Brazil. It also reconfirmed our commitment to be support them not only through giving, but also in the words of the poster I held, in our prayers”

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